Eddie Redmayne has described physicist Stephen Hawking, who has passed away aged 76, as “a truly beautiful mind.”
Redmayne, who won an Oscar for his portrayal of Hawking in 2014 drama The Theory Of Everything, told us in a statement, “We have lost a truly beautiful mind, an astonishing scientist and the funniest man I have ever had the pleasure to meet. My love and thoughts are with his extraordinary family.”
Hawking, the inspirational and visionary scientist who was diagnosed with ALS aged 22, previously praised Redmayne for his performance in the film about his life. In a post on his Facebook page, the physicist said, ‘“I thought Eddie Redmayne portrayed me very well in The Theory of Everything movie. He spent time with ALS sufferers so he could be authentic. At times, I thought he was me. Seeing the film has given me the opportunity to reflect on my life. Although I’m severely disabled, I have been successful in my scientific work. I travel widely and have been to Antarctica and Easter Island, down in a submarine and up on a zero gravity flight. One day I hope to go into space. I’ve been privileged to gain some understanding of the way the universe operates through my work. But it would be an empty universe indeed without the people that I love.”
Redmayne told us in 2014 that meeting the “icon” Hawking a few days before shoot for The Theory Of Everything was an “astounding” moment, “Unfortunately, I only met Stephen five days before we started filming. By that point, I had to try and at least technically, if not emotionally, structure what the performance was going to be, because we weren’t shooting chronologically. When I met Stephen, it was this astounding moment with this man who’d become an idol in my mind. I actually had feared, “What if this man ends up in reality being nothing like what I predicted?” Fortunately, in that meeting, he just emanated humor and wit and a joy of life. It became absolutely clear in meeting him that the illness is secondary.”
Meanwhile, The Theory Of Everything screenwriter and producer Anthony McCarten told me today, “Stephen Hawking’s life was devoted to wondering and to wonder. Upon hearing that he died today my first thought was that if you’d told him at 21, when he received the cold verdict from a doctor that he had two years to live, and there was nothing they could do for him medically, that he’d never have imagined he’d live another 55 years. He was a molecular miracle, both physically and intellectually, and it was one of the great honors of my life to have met him, spent some time with him, and been his cinematic biographer. I will always remember his reaction to his first viewing of Theory Of Everything. As the lights rose in the private theatre his nurse wiped a tear from his cheek and he began to type – a laborious process for him – his verdict: ‘Broadly true.’ His place in history is assured, for his pioneering work on understanding black holes and the early universe, but I will remember him for his bravery, his wit, and the object lesson he delivered every day, that life is what you make it. Travel well Steve, to your rightful place among the stars. I trust that in death you have fulfilled your life’s ambition, to know the mind of God.”
Working Title’s Eric Fellner, producer on the movie, added about Hawking’s screening reaction: “I will never forget how in one sentence he was able to summarise the complexities of making good, factually-based films where you naturally have to conflate years of facts into 2 hours. After we screened The Theory Of Everything to him, as I recall, he said ‘not everything in it happened…but all of it was true.’ Genius.”
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